Socket-AM2 Performance Preview
Without major architectural changes to the new AM2 CPUs, we wanted a quick and easy way to showcase the performance differences between AM2 and Socket-939. What we've got is a massive table below with all of our usual CPU benchmarks and their results for the same CPU in both Socket-939 and AM2 varieties, and the performance benefit offered by AM2:
|Benchmark||Socket-939 (DDR-400)||Socket-AM2 (DDR2-800)||% Advantage (Socket-AM2)|
|PC WorldBench 5||115||115||0%|
|Business Winstone 2004||23.3||23.2||-0.4%|
|Multimedia Winstone 2004||38.4||38.9||1.3%|
|ICC SYSMark 2004||282||286||1.4%|
|OP SYSMark 2004||171||175||2.3%|
|Adobe Premier Pro 1.5 (Export w/ Adobe Media Encoder)||130 s||128 s||1.5%|
|Adobe Photoshop CS2||210.6 s||210.3 s||0.1%|
|DivX 6.1||11.6 fps||12.0 fps||3.4%|
|WME9||35.2 fps||35.6 fps||1.1%|
|Quicktime 7.0.4 (H.264)||3.63 min||3.63 min||0%|
|iTunes 188.8.131.52 (MP3)||43 s||43 s||0%|
|Quake 4 - 10x7 (SMP)||111.3 fps||117.4 fps||5.5%|
|Call of Duty 2 - 10x7||59.3 fps||60.1 fps||1.3%|
|F.E.A.R. - 10x7||92 fps||94 fps||2.1%|
|Multitasking Test (LAME + WME + Anti Virus + Zip)||216.3 s||213.4 s||1.4%|
|ScienceMark 2.0 (Bandwidth)||5007 MB/s||6805 MB/s||36%|
|ScienceMark 2.0 (Latency 512-byte stride)||53.83 ns||49.77 ns||7.5%|
We'll start at the bottom of the table and go up from there. Rev F processors feature a 128-bit DDR2-800 memory controller, which works out to offer a peak theoretical bandwidth to/from memory of 12.8GB/s. As you can expect, that's twice the bandwidth of Rev E CPUs' 128-bit DDR-400 controller at 6.4GB/s. Thus to see a 36% increase in memory bandwidth according to ScienceMark is to be expected, albeit a bit on the low side. The old DDR-400 memory controller is able to deliver 5GB/s out of a maximum of 6.4GB/s, but now we're only seeing 6.8GB/s out of a maximum of 12.8GB/s with AM2. This however is a huge step for AMD, as it is the first spin of the Rev F silicon that we've been able to see such a significant advantage in theoretical memory bandwidth over previous DDR-400 cores.
What's even more important than the increase in memory bandwidth is that access latency has been reduced by 7.5% over the DDR-400 memory controller in the Rev E cores. Lower latency and more bandwidth means that, at bare minimum, performance won't go down. At least, not perceptibly: .4% slower in one test that has a 1-2% variability is nothing to worry about.
It also doesn't guaranee that performance will go up, as you can see from the results above. If we only count the overall SYSMark score and leave out the synthetic tests, the real world performance advantage averages out to a little under 1.3%. There are some special cases such as Quake 4 and DivX were performance goes up fairly reasonably, which can be expected since both of those tasks are fairly bandwidth intensive and make good use of both cores. However similar benchmarks, such as F.E.A.R. and Windows Media Encoder 9 show lower improvements, so it is very dependent on the specific application and workload.
It's important to note that until recently, AM2 samples were not able to produce scores even on par with Socket-939, so the fact that we're seeing a performance increase at all is a major step from where we were just a couple of months ago. The real question is, is this all we get?